Aggressive Federal Law Defense Attorneys for Doctors, Pharmacists & Executives in Tampa
The federal government is relentless. Few industries know this as well as the private healthcare sector, which is subject to extensive federal oversight, regulation, and enforcement actions that can throw your business and even your personal life into utter turmoil in the blink of an eye.
This is especially pertinent to healthcare professionals in the Tampa Bay area. That’s because Tampa, Florida is one of nine U.S. cities that are home to a Medicare Fraud Strike Force office, a special multi-agency team that acts with both state and federal authority in an effort to crack down on allegations of healthcare fraud in its community and the surrounding districts.
Healthcare fraud is a problem in this country, certainly, and no one condones it. But when law enforcement agencies are given big budgets and put under tremendous political pressure to execute a “crackdown” effort, it’s all too common for innocent people to get swept up in overaggressive investigations.
These investigations tend to impede day-to-day business operations, and they can even make it impossible for you or your practice to continue treating patients until you reach a successful resolution a process that can take months or even years to wrap up.
Fortunately, if you’re currently going up against a healthcare investigation, you don’t have to endure the process alone, nor do you have to accept the government’s timetables or requests on its own terms.
At Oberheiden, P.C., we work hard to defend doctors, pharmacists, and business people working in the healthcare industry against the federal government, including the Tampa Medicare Fraud Strike Force.
We know how to make a difference in these cases because we used to work on the other side. Our Federal healthcare law defense team attorneys are former federal prosecutors who helped the United States to audit, investigate, and even take criminal action against the healthcare industry. But today, we’ve turned the tables and are using that insight for your benefit instead.
Our federal healthcare law defense lawyers know first hand how aggressive the government can be. We also understand how an equally aggressive team of defense attorneys may turn the tide in these cases. Let us fight to turn the tide for you. When you hire Oberheiden, P.C., you can count on our lawyers to go to work right away. Our goal in every case is clear:
- Bring the investigations to an end sooner rather than later
- Keep your business operations, state licenses, and federal registrations in good standing
- Protect your reputation
- Give you sound and strategic advice for compliance, defense, and avoiding charges
- The dismissal of criminal charges as quickly as possible
Don’t let the federal government rain on your business or your career without a defense. You’ve worked hard to be where you are. You deserve justice, fairness, and respect. Let us fight for those things on your behalf. Call the Tampa healthcare federal law fraud defense attorneys at Oberheiden, P.C. today.
What Is the Tampa Medicare Fraud Strike Force
In 2007, the United States Department of Justice (U.S. DOJ) and the Department of Health and Human Services (U.S. HHS) came together to launch a joint investigative team called the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Its mission: to pool state, federal, and local resources in an effort to fight back against fraud, waste, and abuse in the healthcare industry.
The Strike Force has a national purview and acts with federal authority, but its offices are located in just nine U.S. cities. They are:
- Tampa, FL (covering the Tampa Bay and West Central Florida)
- Miami, FL
- Baton Rouge, LA (covering southern Louisiana)
- Houston, TX (covering southern Texas)
- Dallas, TX
- Brooklyn, New York City, NY
- Detroit, MI
- Chicago, IL
- Los Angeles, CA
Accordingly, much of the Strike Force’s actions originate in these nine areas, and so healthcare professionals in these cities are reasonably concerned about the undue impact that excessive state and federal scrutiny can have. Too often, we see federal agents make mountains out of molehills.
Among the agencies that work directly with the Medicare Fraud Strike Force are:
- The Office of the Inspector General (OIG)
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- U.S. Attorney’s Office
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
- The HHS and DOJ
- State and local law enforcement offices
That is an incredible amount of state and federal force invested in just nine offices across the country, one of which is in Tampa. That’s why it is wise for healthcare professionals including not only doctors and pharmacists but also owners and/or executives in any healthcare-related business to regard any encounter with the Medicare Fraud Strike Force as an extremely serious and urgent matter that could have immediate and devastating effects on your practice and your career.
Please do not make the mistake of underestimating the federal government or its willingness to take a strong stance against even the mere suspicion of fraud in the medical industry.
Examples of Healthcare Fraud Cases in Tampa
The Medicare Fraud Strike Force has arrested well over two thousand people in the healthcare industry in the last ten years alone. In that same time period, it has also successfully pursued millions of dollars in fees and assessments from healthcare providers and clinics.
In many of these cases, it has brought business to a grinding halt before the team was even able to prove any wrongdoing. Consider, for example, the Strike Force’s ability to refer cases to CMS for immediate suspension of payments to providers based merely on “credible suspicions” of violations.
The Strike Force expanded its operations to the Tampa Bay area in 2009. Since then, we have seen several major initiatives originate or unfold in Tampa. These include:
- In September 2012, the Tampa Bay Medicare Fraud Strike Force raided a Bradenton company that conducted business in Hillsborough, Citrus, Manatee, and Sarasota counties.
- In May 2013, the Strike Force produced 34 Florida arrests in connection with Medicare fraud.
- In May 2014, a nationwide crackdown on Medicare fraud resulted in 90 arrests (including 27 doctors and healthcare professionals), 57 of which were located in Tampa and Miami alone.
- In October 2014, a Strike Force investigation led to conviction for the individual owner of two private medical rehabilitation centers in Florida (one in south Florida and the other in Kissimmee).
- In June 2016, the Strike Force concluded a nationwide sweep across 36 federal districts, which resulted in more than a dozen arrests in the Middle Florida District, including a pharmacist, a physician’s assistant (PA), a registered nurse (RN), and several business owners. Charges included compound pharmacy fraud, intravenous prescription drug fraud, and millions of dollars in allegedly fraudulent billing practices.
These are only a few examples of the numerous and ongoing federal healthcare investigations that involve the Tampa Bay Strike Force. They are compelling illustrations of the agency’s vigilance, something every healthcare worker should be mindful of.
Other Kinds of Healthcare Fraud
Because Tampa is home to one of the major federal Strike Forces, and because the Tampa Bay area has such a large number of Medicare beneficiaries, the issue of Medicare fraud is one of the most pressing criminal matters affecting the West and Central Florida healthcare sector. But Medicare abuse isn’t the only type of healthcare fraud accusation that Tampa providers need to worry about.
In fact, the single most common trigger for a healthcare-related governmental investigation: billing errors.
Billing errors are just that: accidents. In many cases, they are unintentional and go unnoticed until the government’s data collections processes raise a red flag. Even accidental errors, however, can turn into frightening ordeals once the federal government gets involved.
Unfortunately, in the busy and extremely complex world of healthcare compliance, billing errors are all too easy to make and they can happen outside of Medicare too. Billing errors also happen with Medicaid, private insurance, and other plans.
Meet Our Federal Law Defense Attorneys
Lynette S. Byrd defends both individual and corporate clients who are accused of federal crimes or under investigation by state / federal agencies, including by the Tampa Bay Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Ms. Byrd is a former federal prosecutor, and she served for several years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. While representing the federal government, she worked on a number of high-profile cases, including one of the largest healthcare fraud cases in her district, and collected millions of dollars for the government on behalf of taxpayers. Today, she puts her experience as a former prosecutor to work for healthcare providers and their organizations against enforcement actions brought on by the Strike Force and other federal offices.
Call the Tampa Healthcare Fraud Defense Lawyers at Oberheiden, P.C.
If you are a pharmacist, physician, or a business person working in the healthcare industry, you need to take every federal audit or investigation extremely seriously, as charges can spring forth even from little or innocent mistakes.
We offer free, confidential consultations. To speak with a federal healthcare defense lawyer about your investigation, please call Oberheiden, P.C. at (888) 727-0472 or contact us online today.